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contemporary craft

Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse / Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Dark Light, Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse / Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston
February 7 – May 11, 2014

Opening Reception: Friday, February 7, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
5:30 - Artist Talk by Adrian Esparza
6:00 - Artist Talk by Christine Nofchissey McHorse

The opening will also feature Spectra by Adrian Esparza in the Front Gallery. Open studios by current resident artists to follow talks. 

In Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) presents works by one of the most innovative contemporary forces in Native American pottery.  Working from traditional materials and techniques, Christine Nofchissey McHorse’s vessel-based art blends the boundaries of pottery and sculpture, erasing the line between function and form. As the Navajo artist’s first traveling exhibition, the show exhibits the unadorned sophistication of the sultry curves, black satiny surfaces, and modern forms of her Dark Light series, created from 1997 to present. An amalgam of Puebloan, Navajo, and contemporary influences, each sculpture possesses a cultural splendor that is as fertile as the Northern New Mexico riverbeds where McHorse harvests her clay.

Through the unadulterated beauty of micaceous clay and with Puebloan construction techniques learned from her Taos mother-in-law, McHorse transforms her sketches into voluminous shapes that swell upwards like a natural spring. Dismissing the rudimentary forms that define Native American ethnic identity in craft, she returns to primordial shapes, akin to the modern aesthetic of Henri Moore. Experimenting with shape, mass, volume, and line, she creates organic vessels in the vein of her ancestors, who recognized the spiritual power of water, air, and earth.

To complement her natural forms, McHorse gives each piece its own unique skin by pushing the boundaries of a raw material. Traditionally used for cookware and valued for its structural integrity, micaceous clay permits McHorse to build thin-walled structures that can withstand high temperatures, yielding a black satiny finish. The darkness of the fired clay provides a dramatic contrast to the tiny bits of reflective mica, glistening as light dances across each piece. Using light gradation as her palette, McHorse controls the presence of light by creating differently textured surfaces that either catch or reflect the light.  When combined with the elegance of each sculpture’s form, the element of light in McHorse’s works renders a captivating visual experience.

Born in Morenci, AZ, in 1948, Christine Nofchissey McHorse is a first generation, full-blooded Navajo ceramic artist. After marrying Joel McHorse, a Taos Pueblo Indian, she learned to make pots through his grandmother, Lena Archuleta, who taught her to work with micaceous clay, a rare but naturally occurring clay high in mica content that can be found in the Taos area. McHorse has since become one of the most admired and successful Native potters, working with traditional techniques but making the kind of reductive, sculptural pots that one would have expected Brancusi to make, were he alive today.

From 1963 – 1968, McHorse studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, where her studio is now located.  She has received numerous awards from the SWAIA Indian Market, Santa Fe, and the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, Gallup, as well as the Museum of Northern Arizona. Her works are in the collections of the Denver Museum of Natural History, the Museum of New Mexico, the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution, the Navajo Nation Museum, and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. McHorse also has the unique distinction of winning Best in Show for both pottery and sculpture at the annual Santa Fe Indian Market.

Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse is organized by The Ceramic Arts Foundation, New York, NY, and curated by Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio.

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  • Carol Gouthro: Anthozoa gouthroii “Chromatella”, 2012, Terrecotta clay with underglazes and glazes, 6”h. x 10”w .x  6”d

  • Craft Spoken Here / Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Craft Spoken Here exhibition at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA

    Craft Spoken Here / Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA
    May 5 - August 12, 2012

    Crafts were prominent among the first works of art to enter the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art when it was founded in 1876, and the Museum has continued to collect and exhibit crafts. Today, thanks in large part to the Women’s Committee and gifts from individuals, the Museum is particularly well-known for its holdings of twentieth-and twenty-first-century American, European, and Asian craft.

    With Craft Spoken Here, the Museum seizes the opportunity to experiment with its collection and to understand craft in an international context. Some forty contemporary works from 1960 to the present in ceramic, glass, metal, wood, lacquer, paper, and fiber—some by living, acclaimed artists and others by lesser-known creators—are on view. Representing the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, the works highlight formal qualities that cross cultures, time, and media.

    Craft Spoken Here features an array of engaging education programs and interpretive materials, including on-site artist demonstrations and hands-on craftmaking activities for the public.

    The exhibition is divided into three sections. Essential Element looks at continuing importance of line—the graphic gesture—as an expressive and compositional element in the work of artists. Rebecca Medel’s The One (1985) uses a network of lines to form a dense cube of knotted cotton and linen threads, dark on its fringes and progressively lighter towards the center, which creates the illusion of a luminous sphere floating in an atmospheric haze. The second section, Shape Shifting, includes works in clay, glass, wood, metal, paper, and fiber materials that have been fashioned into sculptural forms. Motoko Maio’s Kotodama (2008) is a folding screen in silk and linen that can be adjusted to divide a room, provide privacy, or rest decoratively in a corner. The final section is Gesture, which includes works that offer visual and emotional cues, such as the chaotic, seemingly uncontrollable framework of Jessica Jane Julius’s Static (c. 2008), in which hundreds of black glass flameworked threads combine in a sculptural evocation of the artist’s reoccurring dream.

    Curator
    Elisabeth Agro, The Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts

    The exhibition is made possible by The Leonard and Norma Klorfine Foundation Fund for Modern and Contemporary Craft. Additional support is provided by the Windgate Charitable Foundation and the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In-kind support is provided courtesy of Lion Brand Yarn.

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